Some kite fliers find a wind gauge handy. However, if you don't have
one, observing trees and leaves is a fair substitute! After a few years
without one, I finally got one on the 25th December ;-)
There it is in the photo down there. Love those little spinning cups!
It seems the mechanism is very accurately made, and also extremely light. Operation is completely silent and vibration-free.
This has given a new dimension to the flight reports since I can
now quote precise numbers to accompany the hand-waving narrative!
Visitors to this site now have more accurate info on how the MBK kites
behave at various wind speeds. Well, at least they will have when we get around to posting a new flight report for each and every MBK kite design.
Most portable wind meters fall into 2 categories, tubular and
electronic. In this day and age, there is a very wide range of
electronic models to choose from.
The Electronic Wind Gauge
These are all the rage with a variety of wind-related outdoor sports
The handy little devices are used in sailing, windsurfing,
paragliding, you name it. However, these things are often far more than
just meters for wind speed! More like complete little weather stations,
informing you of everything such as altitude, dew point, temperature, chill factor and barometric pressure.
From a kite-fliers' point of view, the ability of a wind meter (or anemometer as they are also known) to monitor average speed seems like a great feature. Again, though, how do they do in
extremely light conditions when your 2-Skewer Dopero is hanging up
there and hardly a leaf is stirring? Surprisingly well, it turns out.
The best of these devices are able to measure reliably over quite an
enormous range of wind speeds. From almost nothing to 150 kph or so.
The Hall Wind Gauge
This simple mechanical device is just a clear tube with a light disk
which floats up and down on a central spindle. You just point the small
air inlet into the wind, and read the wind speed off the scale printed
on the wall of the tube. I can remember seeing something similar in my
childhood, when my father used to be responsible for a small
Having never actually used a gauge of this type, I have to wonder how they perform in extremely light winds. Also, you would have to guess at the average wind strength, based on the movements of the disk over a minute or so.
On the plus side, you never need to change batteries! Also, the
device is so simple that with good care it should keep working forever.
Trees And Leaves As A Wind Gauge
Before getting a good wind meter I used to just go by the motion of trees and their leaves. Also, the sound
of those leaves! This actually gives useful information over a very
wide range of wind speeds. From personal experience, the following list
sums up the behavior of gum trees in winds of various strengths...
- Dead Calm. No motion, no sound. Duh!
- Very Light. Some leaf motion, no sound.
- Light. Frequent leaf and twig motion, very little sound.
- Light-to-Moderate. Small branches in motion, obvious leaf noise during gusts.
- Moderate. Larger branches in motion, constant leaf noise.
- Moderate-to-Fresh More motion, more noise.
- Fresh. Most of the tree's branches are moving, with plenty of leaf noise.
That's just off the top of my head. Anything more than 'fresh'
isn't of much interest to most single-line kite fliers. One day I'll
probably do some observations with wind gauge in hand, to compile a more
Oh, one little complicating factor - not all trees behave the
same! For example, pine needles hardly budge until the wind really picks
up. At the other extreme, palms and other plants with fronds tend to be
much more sensitive to wind than most suburban trees.